Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beautiful Paso Robles

Such a wonderful discovery! Hills of vineyards and groves of almond, walnut and olive trees with lovely wineries interspersed throughout was our view over the past few days. The wineries and tasting rooms are every bit as beautiful as the ones in Napa as are some of the wines.

Having no recommendations, we chose to visit those listed on Tom's Foodie blog.

Summerwood was our first stop. An elegant tasting room with views of the fermentation tanks. The
wines are very good as were the chocolates labeled to pair with the wines. In addition to wine, we left with a couple bags of raspberry infused chocolate (bet they won't make it home with us.)

On to Peachy Canyon, informal with really nice wine

After lunch in downtown Paso Robles, we drove to Halter Ranch, we weren't impressed with their wines.

Last stop of the day was Tablas Creek. Another elegant tasting room with a  lovely French lady

Thursday we started the day at Eberle. We were introduced to their zinfandel by a friend in Texas several years ago. Inexpensively priced we think it is a good value.

Loved the cave tour at Eberle.

With a brick oven and a gorgeous view, we can only imagine how great the parties must be here.

To our next destination, Villa San-Juliette, we had a lovely drive on a country road lined with nut trees and vineyards. Owned by the producers of a couple of reality shows like, American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, no expense was spared in creating a lovely place to taste wine and have lunch. Just as we turned in our order for pizza, in came Bob and JoAnne whom we met at the campground the previous evening. Like us, JoAnne owns a Lazy Daze (1999 vintage) and is a Presbyterian. She also shares ABN's interest in art. Bob drives a Road Trek, small class B. He shares Captain's love of Bluegrass music and is a zinfandel aficionado  They too ordered a pizza and joined us for lunch By the time the pizzas were eaten and a very nice bottle of grenache was consumed, we were friends. 

The plan was to visit one more winery, drop ABN to poke around Paso Robles while Captain did some grocery shopping. Bob and JoAnne convinced us we should visit one of their favorite wineries, Graveyard (not on our list); so glad we did as we left with two bottles of a delicious chocolate infused port. (With a case of Jodar port at home, and a new port club membership in El Dorado County, I think we have an ample supply, at least until we return maybe next year.)

Last stop of day at Tobin James Cellars, a fun place to hang out and the zinfandel is pretty fabulous.

Thank goodness shared tastings and dumping is acceptable!

By that time, ABN was no longer interested in shopping. A quick stop at the grocery and back to The Wanderer for a rest before dinner.

After dinner Bob and JoAnne joined us for a little port and zin.

Paso Robles, another must return to destination. Now that we have friends in Santa Barbara, we must add that to our list also.

So what about the wines, well time will tell. Often when we open a bottle a few months after returning home from a wine tasting trip we will say "What were we thinking?" Just as often we will say "Wow, I didn't remember how great this one tasted." Sometimes our palates are influenced by the experience, sometimes the quality improves with time and sometimes it loses some of it's character. For us, wine is an art and a mystery.

Thirty two wineries, eight cases of wine, visits with old and new friends, our souls are fed as we leave wine country.

After a stop at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley,

we have turned The Wanderer toward Aggieland. 

The intent was to post this last evening. However, we found ourselves camping in a canyon with no internet, phone service or cable connection. We did have water, electricity and dumping so all was good. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Saying Good-bye for now.

"Just where did we go wrong?"
After not being on the tandem for about a month, we headed to Folsom (yes, like in the prison) on Friday to ride the American River Bike Trail. We rode it a few years back and knew it would be a beautiful ride. We would like to say it was a perfect ride (and it was almost.) Toward the end of the ride, we made one little miscalculation and found ourselves trying to cross a busy street. We advanced across the first lane of traffic, and were waiting in the middle for a break to cross over to the bike lane. Apparently that was not acceptable. We did make it safely to the bike lane; in the process we learned California has their share of rednecks as we were called  "stupid," "idiots," etc. by passing motorists.

It is a beautiful trail and we would have loved to share a few of the many photos and video's we shot, but ABN accidentally deleted all of them. Here are a couple from 2012.

Another gorgeous California farmers' market, this one is in Placerville.

And we discovered The Fork Lift, for lack of a better description; it is like a Whole Foods on steroids.

Where could we possibly store all of our produce purchases in The Wanderer's
small galley? In a produce hammock, of course!

Enjoying the bounty from the Farmers Market; roasted vegetables and peaches on the Green Egg and fresh ravioli.

Although the fire continues to burn in southern Amador County, it is mostly contained and the smoke has pretty much cleared here in El Dorado County. Sunday, with our wine maker friend, we wandered over to northern Amador County to do some tasting. We were pleased to find the smoke had pretty much cleared there also.

Tasting Room at Wilderotter, Their Ambrosia is a very good blend

Bill and Randy at Borjon, which continues to be a favorite.
This evening we said good-bye to Placerville, our friend, Bill and our friends at Wine Smith. The wine, music and people of El Dorado County feed our souls and makes us hungry to return.

Tomorrow we will pack up and point The Wanderer toward Paso Robles.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It is so good to be back in El Dorado County!

This article in the San Francisco Examiner pretty well sums it up. We have come out here every year since 2012 and have gotten to know some folks; and it doesn’t hurt that one of the local winemakers is an old friend of Captain's from their high school band days. Bill still plays a guitar and is part of the Bill and Wayne duo; Wayne plays a mean harmonica. It just happened that Wayne was hosting a barbecue on Saturday evening and we were invited. (Wayne’s barbecue ribs are right up there with Captain's!) But the best part of the evening was sitting around the patio after dinner listening to Wayne and Bill and a couple of other guys playing their music. 

Fortunately where we were, the smoke from the fire in Amador County was not that bad.

On Monday we went to the Fair Play region and the air was pretty thick, in some places there were ashes on the outdoor tables.  

Wine is a funny art.  We revisited some of the wineries in Fair Play that we really liked in previous years but were not wowed with the wines this time.

We did like Toogood, especially their port (maybe because the tasting was in a really neat wine cave.)

Last year we were quite smitten with Mastroserio’s cab, but this year, not so much. 

The wine maker, Ruggero Mastroserio plays a saxophone. He also has a friendly dog that understands only Italian.

Tuesday we tasted in the Camino area and were pleased that they are having a good year.  We like the Super Tuscan blend at Chateau Davell. We bought an interesting cider at Bumgarner’s; at first we declined the sample since we really aren’t into cider, but with encouragement we sampled and what a surprise! Not sweet at all, just a nice, crisp taste. Yep, a bottle is coming home with us.

Tipsy Tuesday was at our friend Bill’s winery, Jodar. He indulged us by opening a 2008 merlot that was excellent. (We understand a Tipsy Tuesday was held on our patio at home, too. Hmm...)

The area received a much welcomed rain on Monday evening and Tuesday and the temperature is much cooler. Today the air at the campsite is pretty clear.

The good news………..we now have two wheels for the tandem! Hopefully we will get at least one ride in before we move on.

Now, if you have been one of those that get our blog posts in your email box and have replied  by clicking reply, well we are sad to say we have not received your reply.  I don’t know where the replies go (somewhere out in Google space,) they just don’t get to us. (I think it says somewhere noreply.) So, if you have something to say you can send it to the email address you have in your contacts, go to the blog and comment, private message us on Facebook, send us a text or you could actually call us (I know that is so old school.)

Today we are having a new windshield put in the pick-up and a repair on a chip in The Wanderer’s windshield. I guess both vehicles took a bit of a beating in the 2600 miles. We were able to get on location repair service, so we can sit around the campsite and wait for the technician to come to us. I guess that would be a good time to do some laundry. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

All Zinned Out (Almost)

Since our last post, we have been exploring the Dry Creek region of Northern Sonoma County in California. This is not our first visit. Why do we continue to return? The zinfandel wine! For our palate, we have found the Dry Creek region to be the best and we were not disappointed this trip. We revisited only one winery from our previous trips, Truett-Hurst. The wine is very good but what we really
like is the setting and the tasting room staff. Sometimes we think our palette is greatly influenced by our experiences. In addition to growing grapes, Truett-Hurst has a vegetable garden as well as a goat, of course that resonates with ABN! We happened to be tasting with a delightful young couple from Minneapolis that were on their honeymoon.  They were bicycling along the wine trail, which we did a few years ago and had intended to do this trip; that was before we lost our front wheel in Kansas. Given the temperature was 106 degrees, we were not unhappy to have a good excuse to drive instead.

Out of the 12 wineries we visited we found a few from which we will probably order and have hopes to visit again. Unti  (where we discovered the grape (montepulciano), Mauritson (for their Rockpiile collection), and maybe Mazzoco (one of the Wilson Family Wineries) It is interesting that once a wine tasting room representative (is there a title for that person?) knows one's varietal preference, he/she will recommend another winery. Cameron at Unti suggested we taste at Foppiano. We really liked their zinfandel and, surprisingly, their chardonnay. Foppiano has a great patio where they do the tastings at picnic tables adding the chance for
conversation with other tasters. We spent quite a bit of time talking with a couple from Orlando as well as with Pete and Lil, who happen to be local. Pete and Lil suggested another tasting room, Pezzi King, tucked away in downtown Healdsburg. I think it maybe our best find so far. A very small winery with one of the more unique sauvignon blancs we have tasted, as well as a very smooth, full bodied zinfandel. Reasonably priced ($22 - $32 bottle) I am sure we will become a regular customer. Pezzi King is another Wilson Family winery.

The temperatures  in Cloverdale exceeded 100 degrees each day during our visit. Without the humidity, we found it not too uncomfortable and dined outside most of the time.

We ended our time in northern Sonoma County celebrating the marriage of the son of good friends from eastern Tennessee. A beautiful couple with a beautiful future.

After a stop at the Farmer's Market in Healdsburg, we wandered on over to El Dorado County where we were greeted with a haze of smoke. A few days ago a wild fire broke out in the adjoining county of Amador. We were told it was about 45 minutes away and moving away from us. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Monday, September 7, 2015

And the Journey Continues

Wandering across Utah and Nevada the past three days, spending two nights dry camping in Walmart parking lots, we are now at the Gold Ranch RV Resort and Casino on the Nevada/California border. (No we haven't tried our luck.)

With the portable satellite dish, we were able to watch the Aggie win over Arizona State while parked in a Walmart parking lot.

After being in The Wanderer for three days, ABN was happy to be someplace where she could practice yoga.

Utah was an interesting drive, Nevada was pretty but got boring after awhile.
Great Salt Lake

Bonneville Salt Flats (Yes that is salt we are standing on..)
This is a lot of what we saw in Utah and western Nevada.
Today we drove over to Lake Tahoe, one of our very favorite places on earth. Having never been on the Nevada side, we started there and drove all the way around.
More photos of Lake Tahoe to come as we plan to return in a couple of weeks, hopefully with the tandem. We had a beer at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company and noticed they had a porter float on the dessert menu, I think we will have to give that a try! 

Tomorrow we will be in wine country!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lovely Loveland

Catching up with old friends and visiting relatives we rarely see adds a special dimension to our travels and certainly feeds our souls.

Captain was especially happy to visit with his former co-worker and friend that he had not seen in about 22 years. He and his wife are a delightful couple that went over and beyond the expected hospitality. Learning we were having a problem with the toad's electrical connection, they called around and found a hitch and trailer shop that agreed to look at it. Mickey and Billie took us on a tour of Loveland while the friendly guys at Kirbys Hitch and Wiring diagnosed and hopefully fixed the problem. (At least the turn indicators were functioning when we left the campground this morning.)

Loveland has a beautiful sculpture park where Captain made a couple of new friends.

We saw probably 50 life size pieces and didn't see all of them. Here are a few of our favorites:

We took a day trip to Estes Park and had a wonderful visit with Loretta, a special member of our extended family. Driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park , we welcomed memories of the times we spent hiking and tent camping years ago. ABN's (Anyone But Navigator) son was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, WY, about an hour or so north of Estes Park. Both of our granddaughters were born in Cheyenne, so we visited the area quite frequently in the late 90's and early 2000's.

It happened to be a rainy day in the park so we didn't get to hike this time. However, having a break in the rain, we thought we could get a walk in around Bear Lake. We made it about half way before the rain started again.

This is a view from our campground at Boyd Lake State Park.

Today we wandered across Wyoming and found ourselves at a Walmart parking lot/campground in Evanston, WY. We counted at least 8 RV's and that many or more 18-wheelers already parked. More were coming in.

 BTW, the turn indicators were still functioning when we parked this evening. Fingers are crossed!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Again this morning, the turn signals did not work. Another blown fuse. Captain had a theory, so he did a reconfiguration of the cable connections in the Walmart parking lot in Goodland, KS. It seemed to be working fine so off we went.

Finally, we are not in Kansas anymore.

Tipsy Tuesday with friends in Loveland, Colorado.

Oh, when we checked the turn signals before disconnecting the tow this afternoon, they were not working. Captain has been on the phone with several RV service centers and so far there are no appointments available until after Labor Day.

Stay tuned, I'm sure we will get this worked out!

Grassroots Art Center

Sitting behind us at church on Sunday was a lady that worked at the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, KS which is less than 10 miles from Lake Wilson. She invited us to visit the center, so we did on Monday morning. Expecting a small local art gallery that would probably take less than a hour to explore, we were surprised.

When we arrive in Lucas, we parked right in front of an elaborate toilet.The restroom entrance is a mosaic oval lid. It features re-purposed glass bottles, travel plates, quotations, hubcaps, tail lights, license plates, dishes, etc. The curved area in front forms the bowl.

To the right is a large roll of toilet paper made out of concrete.

The art center states it is ordinary people making extraordinary art. I seriously doubt these artist are ordinary. To participate,the artists must be self taught and not have an art degree. In the first part of the exhibit, the art looked a bit primitive. The exhibit pieces, mostly yard art, were taken from all over the country from folks that seem to have an obsessive need to create. Apparently they produced hundreds of pieces and had them displayed in their yard.

As we progressed through the museum and into the court yard, we saw some amazing pieces of art.

Post rock limestone posts with elaborate carvings (note the face carved into the post.) One has to wonder how a farmer, after cutting fence post from limestone, had time to carve them.

Full scale sculptures of cars and motorcycles made from soda can pull tabs.

Many sculptures  carved from rock

Chewing gum cameos.

These are only a few of the amazing pieces we saw in the main gallery.
Then we were taken to the foil lined house, created by Artist Mri Pilar.

We were greeted by goddess, Isis.

This is one room, there are three more just as full.

Including the Re-Barb Room, recycled Barbie dolls. 

We spent a couple of hours and didn't see everything. For anyone traveling I-70 through Kansas, it is worth a stop.